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Tipping etiquette: Your questions answered

Cure your “tip fatigue” with tips from the experts
Cure your “tip fatigue” with tips from the experts 02:18

MINNEAPOLIS — We've all been there. You're grabbing a cup of coffee when the barista spins a tablet around to complete your order.

"I don't quite know what to do sometimes," Mary Holen said.

But it's not just coffee. When, who and how much to tip is becoming more of a question in consumers' minds. In fact, about 70% of Americans say tipping is expected in more places today than it was five years ago. Experts agree.

"There's what we call tip inflation, which means that we see people are kind of pushing for a higher level of tip to be given," said Julie Frantz, an etiquette instructor at St. Paul Hotel. "Basically, you're not obligated. If you received excellent service, that's great, and be as generous as you possibly can."

Frantz says the culture around tipping took a shift during the pandemic.

"We're experiencing tip fatigue. But here's the rules: we tip those individuals in the service industry that make our lives easier or have created a wonderful experience for us," she said.

It can be fluid, but Frantz says a good rule of thumb is to tip the people who help you daily: Servers, hairdressers, food or grocery delivery drivers, nail technicians and housekeepers.

"Yes it is part of our culture, and yes it is part of many service peoples' wages," she said. "So that's why, if it's possible, be as generous as you can."

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Do not tip professionals or folks in the trade industry, such as lawyers, teachers, or plumbers. That includes anyone working counter service — meaning tipping on takeout isn't necessary.

"It is not mandatory. We do feel obligated, but it is out of the goodness of your heart that you appreciate people and you would leave a tip," she said.

Of course, it doesn't stop the pressure when the tablet flips your way.

"Everything has, 'do you want to add a tip, dah dah dah,'" Holen said. "And you kind of feel guilty if you don't, like when you turn it back to the people and they say, 'oh, she's not tipping me.' And they don't think that, but that's what's runs through your head."

Frantz says 15-20% is the ideal tipping range, but that can vary depending on the service.

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